3 deserving Astros who'll be squeezed off Opening Day roster

Houston Astros left fielder Corey Julks
Houston Astros left fielder Corey Julks / Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Most of the spots on the Houston Astros Opening Day roster are set. The vast number of injuries, especially to the pitching staff, have opened some doors for a handful of players who were on the outside looking in prior to the start of spring training.

But not every player who deserves a spot on the Astros Opening Day roster will be handed one. After all, there are a myriad of reasons that certain players are part of the roster while others are sent back to the minors. Minor league options are something to keep an eye on at this time of year, as are expensive contracts that sometimes mandate players receive the benefit of the doubt whether they're deserving of such treatment or not.

The Astros have a few players who may well deserve to break camp with the big league club but won't make the cut. Which will be squeezed off the Astros Opening Day roster?

Dylan Coleman, Astros RHP

Jose Urquidy's absence will help, but it may not be enough to give Dylan Coleman the shot he may have earned. With Urquidy and Justin Verlander set to begin the 2024 season on the injured list, Ronel Blanco and JP France will now be part of Houston' starting rotation.

Some Astros fans may say that Coleman is not deserving of a spot. After all, the right-hander has been wildly erratic this spring, with eight walks in just 4.1 innings pitched. He's allowed seven runs to score as a result of the high traffic on the bases while striking out only five batters.

Joe Espada finds himself in a perplexing situation when it comes to whether or not to include Coleman on the 26-man roster because of the pitcher's talent. Coleman's stuff plays at the big league level, but he's got to learn to command his pitches.

Corey Julks, Astros OF

Corey Julks may have caught a break after Grae Kessinger suffered a hamstring injury this past week. Julks has objectively had a better spring, but Kessinger is a much more versatile defender. He can play all over the diamond, while Julks is limited to the outfield.

Julks made his major league debut in 2023, but after having a patient approach at the dish throughout his minor league career, he did not reveal the same type of discipline during his first crack at the big leagues. After recording a higher number of walks than strikeouts at Triple-A Round Rock last season, Julks' walk rate took quite the tumble once he arrived in The Show.

The outfielder has still lacked patience during spring training, but is making more contact. Julks is also hitting for power and posted a .352 slugging percentage in less than 100 games last season before being demoted back to Triple-A. He has a .453 slugging percentage this spring with four of his 11 hits going for extra bases.

Julks is right on cusp with less than a week remaining until Opening Day. Will the 28-year-old be on the flight back to Houston and be on the field when the New York Yankees come to town, or will he be sent back to the minors? The decision may come down to the health of Kessinger.

Joey Loperfido, Astros OF

Loperfido has certainly turned some heads down in West Palm Beach, and even if he doesn't break camp with the 'Stros, one has to believe that a midseason call-up is in his future.

Loperfido is crushing the ball this spring. The 24-year-old is hitting .414/.485/.655 with five RBI. Those numbers are the reason why Loperfido has gotten the attention of the Astros fans and coaching staff.

Unfortunately for Loperfido, he's got a few things working against him. First, as a non-roster invitee, his contract would have to be selected by the Astros. With Houston's 40-man roster currently full, adding him into the mix would require a corresponding move. But most teams will make those types of moves in order to bring a player of Loperfido's skill set onboard.

The other two issues, however, are much more difficult to overlook. First is Loperfido's 36.4% strikeout rate. It would be difficult to see the Astros bringing along a rookie with such a high number of swings and misses.

But the biggest obstacle for Loerfido is the fact that all three outfield spots are spoken for. While some have doubted Jake Meyers, his numbers this spring have been tremendous. Add to Meyers the duo of Kyle Tucker and Chas McCormick, and suddenly there's no everyday spot for Loperfido in the lineup. The Astros will want him getting at-bats every day, so while he may be deserving, look for the youngster to start the year at Triple-A.

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